Notes from this session (and there is a hand out I’ll type up later)
Forget “the” A-List, Find Your Blogging A-List: Effective Blogger Relations
Identifying relevant bloggers in your space. The tools to determine their authority & influence. Effective outreach without backlash. Featuring blogger Elise Bauer, marketing consultant Susan Getgood and Michelle Madhok, longtime expert on women online.
Susan: So why would you reach out to bloggers?
Michelle: bloggers have a diffusion media; understand what is the volume of the traffic and how influential is the blog. Not about impressions but who you impress. Have to work out if right place for you.
Susan: if bloggers link to you, the inbound links are gold for SEO results; they are disproportionally influential in the marketing stuff?
Q: so what sort of communications?
Susan; they are like and not like a journalists; they are also the audience and potential customers. They have a different stake in it. A reporter may not use the product. They may not be as objective, not as nice i you screw up.
Elise: never form letters. Often they are not addressed to me, no intro. Even if know name, then not distinguishable; we share pitches across the food bloggers – we laugh at the form messages.
Susan: I get 4-5 press releases a week as I am a list. Nothing else. you have to be relevant. if someone writes a blog about food, about scratch cooked, don’t send cake mix.
Q: Issue with numbers that may be influential, how to narrow them down to fit in the work day.
Susan: bloggers are like the journalists; there are 10-15 journos on your A-list. bloggers are the same thing. You have to find which ones are right, what they write about. What are the ones that focus on what I have to write about. You have to read and know the blogger. Tailor what they are saying, only 10-15 that are worth reaching out.
Michelle – please do not send hard copy press releases. As PR, publish RSS feeds – with contact info so I can get back to them. Know the ecosystem you want to be in. Look at Quantcast, as a blogger get on it.
Q: Elisha (harpeCollins). I read the blog for a long period of time; some bloggers don;t have name on the blog, so I can;t address it to them,
Susan: if you read regularly, it will be pitched correctly. Write to them as a person. I have never written about a product adn I get all kind of product pitches.
Michelle – try whois.
Q: is there an easy way to figure out who are the top mom bloggers
Susan: start with Blogher or come to the conference!
Susan – if you reach the 10-15, they will write about it, they have an spreading influence.
Elise: I got an email from someone asking for site visitors and page views. I wrote back asking them about why, who are you, how much money do you make??? It was a PR person, representing a company, pushing products. Do not ping anon and ask traffic!
Susan: never ask a blogger to write about you and your products! See the sheet for dos and don’ts.
Q: (origins) we get emails from bloggers asking for info, 3-4 a week. So sometimes when they ask to be on the list, I’ll just send them a releases as I don;t have time to craft personalised. IS that OK?
Michelle: last week origins invited bloggers to an event, but there is still a divide between journos and bloggers. I love Lancombe, they had a big blogger event, they have a RM mailing list; talking about the blogger buzz and sends their mailing list to the blogs.
Susan: this is making your outreach exclusive, something that you are not giving to reporters. They launched greenstone and did a set of conference calls, asking a question of Gloria Steinem. They were giving access to something not normally there.
Q: (Beth, Conde naste) what about anon tips that may or may not be from a publicist. It has worked (ie Gawker). I want attention
A: Michelle – will publish if a good tip.
A: Susan: think about who you are reaching out to. if it is a site that attracts anon tips, then OK. Others it works. Think who your reaching too, talking the way they would like to be talked to.
Michelle: some mags are sending mass emails out to bloggers, see our new mag, link, see our new vid, link to it. So I write back asking them to link to me first. It is not a one way street , you have to generous.
Q: how can you wrestle with all the fast changes, how you change the topics. How can you invest without getting screwed
Susan: read backwards in time. you have to have an understanding of what they are writing about.
Q: I work with Amazon.com, met with Robert Scoble recently and asked the similar questions. His advice: Look back at who may have written about stuff recently, who has launched a similar product.
Susan: monitor keywords as well. See who is writing about it, you will catch new stuff.
Q: so what about linking back, how to do it?
Michelle: it depends what you are after. I think quid pro quo. Similar linking. needs to be a supportive back and forth; it has to be on par if relevant. Bloggers have enough influence as print.
Susan: so what does work?
Elise: working on a carnival, Cook with Tea, asking if the blogger was working on a post and saying would be happy to send you some tea, Adagio Tea. When dealing with smaller blogs, that are not used to being pitched. They get excited about it, will mention you. They sent different levels of gifts based on page rank (i figured out later). They never asked for a link, for a mention. just aske dif could send tea.
Susan: there is benefit on both sides; they have no obligation to write about you.
Q: Liz from Mom101 – KY Spray Mist. Approached me, sent this lube to all these parents and bloggers, cos it was hilarious and fin they got coverage all over the place. keep in mind how high interest the posts may be. KY may be more interesting to write about then pineapples – can they have fun writing about it.
Q: one of my clients is an alpha dating site and they want to invite relationship bloggers to sign up and try it. and that could be a lot of effort/barriers to do as a ‘first date’
A: Susan: ask the bloggers. Ask them feedback on the site, ask for their advice, they may not write about you but you will be info back. You may not get a hit the first time, but work at it
Michelle: think what you can offer the audience, what offers you can do for the readers.
Q: (Anil, Six part) Get the basics right, get the names right, eg look at what the mail merge does! It gets obvious whether there is respect.
Q: a friend advised the PR people not to chase up if not writing up.
Elise: I only write about things I don’t like when want to advise people not to waster time and money. I HP printer did not work!
Q: (HP) bad stuff is just as valuable feedback, can follow up how to make it better
Q: (Harper) I review fiction. Someone sent me an erotica book, something I did not normally cover. I have site guidelines, I will not follow up. I worked 3 floors below this person and had to remind them!
Susan: ask them if they want the products first
Q: (Redbook) It can be burdensome to get product; we ask about sending things back. We get a lot of samples, we appreciate that. This is someone saying we have faith in the product. Look at the size and practicality. But it can take a long time to get to it; it does not mean we do not like it…one follow up is reasonable, there is so much product; you get the repeat contacts,those are the ones I may put aside; it;s not my job to teach them how to do it as there are so many people who do it well.
Q: is there an agency that focuses solely on bloggers etc
A: there are people focused on it…..(missed this)
A; Pierce maddy is one that does it
Susan: it may not be right at the time, you may get results
Elise: follow up could be asking if received what sent, but not chasing write ups.
Q: you have to connect across the outreaches. PR and blogger, some people do many roles.
Q: (Fleishman hillard). How do you balance your outreach – blog or print?
A: Nicole (Cosmo) you have to work with contacts, everyone is structuring it differently. Cosmogirl has the staff writers doing the web stuff; so send stuff to the regular ones. Know your company.
A: (RedBook)everyone is doing it differently. We have hired bloggers, so different content. I’m happy to serve as clearing house for the bloggers. And other magazines may have a different views.
Michelle: I send out weekly emails of ‘i thought you would like to see’ sending back to PR people.
Q: we are used to chasing with traditional media; and you don;t get clippings with blogs
Elise: I send out links to the PR person that I have written. I will return favour and tell you I have written
Susan: offline is going online. And you can reach out in the similar way to when they were print only. Have to read and understand how they write and get pitched. Know what they care about, we have to be more deeply emersed
Q: do not live and die by technorati and alexa – I asked the Pr agency. they only sent out stuff to certain ranked blogs,
Elise: you don’t ness know the full influence from alexa rankings. Influence is more than links. It’s who they influence. think about relevancy as well; some of the smaller bloggers are happy to receive the stuff and write about it I get pitched every day and it goes straight to trash, write only if like it The smaller ones may take more time and write about it, and give you valuable links.
Q: (HP) it’s hard to educate the old world ROI POV, that it i more valuable to go to a focused blog.
A Susan: does it move the needle. if you get sales it is working. So why are you reaching out. It has to drive sales.
A: Elise: SE ranking is a result; one product I loved, i got on other food blogs. The rank went from 17th page to first page in 2 months though being talked about.
Q: this is how offline networking moves into online networkings, we help people build business.
Q: I help small companies transition; it is an evolution…
Q: (HP) it’s about longterm and explaining the benefit. we want people to keep coming back for a lifetime, all the stuff, not short term spike.
Susan: think about influence. if you only need to get to 10 people, you look to where they read. they may not be a perfect niche; there is not one for every single possible interest. It’s not the size of the audience, but their readers.
Michelle: you can see the ecosystems, using Bloglines, see what everyone reads. Find the common sites.
Q: if you want me to write, let me know the keywords, put them in the info. that helps me and you.
Elise: you can ask them (if you have a relationship, find out the keywords)
Susan: as a blogger, you can ask; put on your blog guidelines. Describe what you want.
Elise: use the words in the release.
Q: HP – so what can we do to help bloggers, what do I feed back
Michelle – share out the love, point to the bloggers writing.
Elisa: when I ask for producer, send me the expensive one, not the cheapest. Send the one that you want to appear in photos. don’t skint, you are trying to impress me.
Susan: if you have your own blog, write nice things about the bloggers, link back to them. You have to care and write about them.
Michelle: don;t send samples if you can’t spare it, as I may not be able to send it back. Eg an underwear company that wanted the underwear back!!!
Q: (redbook) i send things back as I do not want burden of accepting an expensive gift). We are bloggers and professional journalists. PR companies should ask me what I want, find out what I will write about.
Q: Sheryl(Club ophelia). do the same rules apply to teenagers, in building out the list?
Q: (Cosmogirl) we are trying to build a community stuff, looking for teen bloggers, to help with this. Looking at technorati and finding stuff that is not ness applicable. they do not have the best attention span, what is good today may not be good tomorrow. Find the networks as well, not just the specifics.
Q: do people pitch you on political issues? Are you open to that?
A: Mom101 I wish there was more. I;d rather write about issues that affect all moms rather than canned peaches! It is huge untapped opportunity.
Susan: Nokia had a blogger outreach site, with the stuff that they have for bloggers. You may think of that.
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